Program Quality Standards: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Program Quality Standards?

The Program Quality Standards (PQS) are a tool to help Programs develop and increase quality of programmatic areas and overall operations. They help Programs identify what to focus on in order to keep moving forward.

How were they created?

The PQS has been initially developed in 2013 with the input from the Programs in all Regions. The PQS Version 3 revision was completed in 2020 with the input from the SOI Departments, Regional and Program staff.

What is new in PQS Version 3?

The PQS Version 3 are aligned to the 2021-2024 Global Strategic Plan structure. Some standards have been updated, added or removed to reflect the advances and new developments in the Special Olympics programmatic areas in the last 5 years.

How are they structured?

The PQS are structured by 3 Strategies and 4 Enablers of the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan. Within each section the standards are set out in 3 logical steps, or stages, that build on each other.

Who should use them?

The PQS help Program Leaders understand, manage, and support Special Olympics programmatic areas and deliver them at high standards . National Directors, CEOs and Program Boards should use the PQS for planning and developing their Programs. The PQS are also useful for working with sub-Programs, athlete, family, and youth committees. Each set of standards has 3 stages so they can be relevant for all types of Programs from small to large, new to mature, and from Programs lacking resources to those that are well- resourced.

How should quality standards be used?

  • Self-Assessment: the primary use of the PQS is to self-assess, find ways to improve and increase quality.
  • Roadmap: PQS should be used when developing annual operational plans and longer-term strategic plans. If a Program is developing a new plan, PQS can help identify what should be included. If a Program is in the middle of a strategic plan, PQS can help focus on improvements that fit within the current strategy.
  • Track progress and celebrate success: achieving new standards means the Program is growing and improving! These are measurable results. Use PQS to recognize and celebrate advancement and growth in your Program.

Why should you use them? What is the benefit?

  • For Programs: PQS help Programs grow and improve. It’s a great assessment, planning, and tracking tool. It helps start honest conversations about Program priorities and goals.
  • For Athletes: A better Program = improvements to the lives of athletes. Use PQS as a tool to get athletes involved, provide them with a reference point to share what they think a Program should focus on.
  • For Program Leaders: Help National Directors, CEOs, Boards of Directors focus on quality, set realistic plans and help answer the question “what’s next?” PQS are useful in transferring knowledge to new or inexperienced leaders and staff.
  • For the Movement: PQS are a consistent reference tool which drive us towards excellence. It moves us away from subjective ‘judgements’ of progress and supports our focus on quality across our diverse Programs.